Glory and tragedy all part of the Games

IF FALLING asleep in front of the couch was an Olympic sport, then I could be bringing home the gold for Australia.

Like most people in the world lucky enough to have a tele and a couch (and there are plenty who don't), I have been caught up in Olympic fever recently, spending far too much time watching the box.

It's ironic that we are watching the world's most elite athletes, people who have dedicated their lives to pushing their bodies to the limit through a process of rigorous training and strict diet, while we sit on the coach eating ice-cream and watching ads for McDonald's.

But apart from the endless ads (which are occasionally interrupted by sport) I have enjoyed it immensely.

I don't really care that Australia hasn't had the gold rush many were expecting; for me the Olympics is less about national pride and more about seeing people from all over the world pushing the edges of what human beings can do.

And then there are the heroic stories.

I got all emotional when Usain Bolt won the 100 metres final. The man is the closest thing we have to a super-hero on this planet and is the epitome of cool. His dip in form before the games (losing to Yohan Blake in the Jamaican trials) built the tension beautifully for a race that stopped the world.

The there was Alistair Brownlee who won the men's triathlon on Tuesday night - another super human effort. Apparently he would swim every morning before riding 20 kilometres to school, then run all lunchtime and ride home again. He never looked like losing and his younger brother Jonathan was there all the way, taking out the bronze.

I'm sure there are many tragic tales amongst all the glory, but none more so than those disqualified for jumping the starter's gun. Until recently athletes were allowed one false start, now there is no mercy. If you break before the gun goes off there is a humiliating process of an official coming out with a red card and marching them off the track and back to the change rooms.

For an athlete who has sacrificed everything to be able to compete at Olympic level, not being allowed to compete because of a false start must be devastating. It seems like overkill to me and I think the rule needs to be revised.


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